Finola is going away to college next month. The change brought on some anxiety about surviving academically at a challenging school, integrating socially, and just leaving home. Mr. Gaelic and I tried to assuage her fears by explaining that 1) in the past year she took four AP classes which are basically college level classes, 2) the house she's been assigned to sounds like it's full of people just like her, and 3) she's been going to resident summer camps since she was seven.
That brought up a discussion of Mr. Gaelic's and my college experiences. Whereas Finola isn't chomping at the bit to get away from here, I, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get the hell outta Dodge.
It's not that I didn't love my parents. They gave me as much love and attention as they were capable of while dealing with an older sibling who had mental and emotional problems.
But in my small Southern town of 7,000, you run with the same group of kids in everything you do. The same people are in your class at school, your church choir and youth group, your Girl Scout troop, your ballet class, and on and on and on. And when a certain wannabe-Alpha girl gets mad at you in kindergarten for having a boy like you before a boy liked her, she can turn the other girls against you. For life. Or at least for twelve long years.
In high school it didn't help matters that I was taller than every boy except two. Or that I was the valedictorian. Or the county winner of the Junior Miss pageant. More flame for the fire of making me a pariah. I couldn't wait to get out of that little town.
Thoughts of Hemingway, Faulkner, Wolfe, and Williams rushed in as I was explaining this to Finola. One thing makes for great writers - a tortured life. Finola has written several multi-chapter stories that she's published on Internet sites. Being the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mother that I am, I turned to Finola and told her she'd never be a great writer. "You had too good of a childhood."